I have wanted to learn how to weld for years, decades maybe. Never got around to it. Looked into taking classes at a tech school back in Ohio, but it was several thousand dollars (no doubt very thorough and professional). When I moved to the Phoenix area and found out about TechShop, I figured I’d learn how to weld there. They have a basic usage and safety training for, normally, a very small fee. (I got a membership package that includes free classes, so I’m taking advantage of that.)
On the tour on my first day, though, they showed me things like laser cutters and CNC mills and 3D printers and, well, I put welding on the back burner again. A few days ago I finally took the basic training, and today I did my first project on my own. I present the world’s most over-engineered and shabbily-welded bottle drying rack!
I could have bought a better one, that holds more bottles (and probably more safely, with forgiving plastic rather than rigid metal), for about $17 on Amazon – and had it delivered way faster than the apx 8 hours it took me, over two days, to make this, but where is the fun in that?!
I cut the central shaft and the bottle rods on an Edwards Ironworker, which is this bad-ass machine that can cut through thick plate steel like it’s butter, with something like 50 tons of force. I was punching holes in 1/4-inch steel – shook the concrete floor, startled the crap out of another guy in the shop.
The base is stuff I pulled out of the scrap bin, to save some money. Lesson learned? Time is money. It took me a couple of hours to cut the crap off the scrap, clean it up, then weld the two halves together – could have bought a nice clean square plate for a few bucks. But the point of this project was to practice and learn, and so I welded pieces of scrap together. And I learned another lesson: when you start to weld, the heat can pull the pieces together, so my flat base isn’t exactly flat.
Yes, I still have all my fingers and toes, no, I didn’t burn me or anything else. I did use the bench grinder to throw a small piece of dowel rod across the room. Fortunately it didn’t go through a wall, or me, and I was the only person in the room so nobody else knows what an idiot thing I did.
And I met another new friend: “Evan” had some welding to do, too, and asked if he could jump in from time to time during my reservation period. I said “of course”, since I didn’t know what I was doing and was taking ten times longer than a normal welder. He kindly offered to give me tips and suggestions – even let me borrow his angle grinder. He taught me several things about the basics of welding, as well as critiquing my welds and giving me confidence. And when he had to leave before I was done, he left his own grinding disk with me so I didn’t have to buy one for the shop’s grinder. I had also gotten a lot of assistance from Tyler, one of TechShops always-helpful DCs – without him and Evan this project might have ended up in the scrap bin!